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Articles Posted in Nursing Home

Arkansas doesn’t have the best safety record for its nursing homes.   While most are great, clean, welcoming places in which our aging loved ones can live happily for years to come, some have been singled out by state and federal agencies for repeated violations (including severe cases of nursing home abuse in Arkansas, some of which have resulted in fatal accidents). Many have faced fines, closures, and increased governmental oversight.   The owners and staff of nursing homes are entrusted with the care of our loved ones, and that’s an honor and privilege that every nursing home owner and staff member  should take seriously, with no exceptions.

Neglect in Arkansas Nursing Homes

One of the most prevalent abuses in Arkansas’ nursing home systems is neglect.  Care workers in these homes and long-term care facilities are tasked with the duty of monitoring patients and residents. They must:

Nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Arkansas generally have a poor track record when it comes to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of residents and temporary patients. It seems like you hear stories of understaffing, neglect, and outright abuse in Arkansas nursing homes on a weekly basis. But many elderly individuals and family members don’t understand that objective physical abuse isn’t the only qualifier for mistreatment. Indeed, Arkansas law allows for individuals to file claims, complaints, and even seek criminal prosecution in cases involving:

  • Neglect
  • Carelessness
  • Recklessness
  • Mishandling
  • Medication errors
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • And even mistakes

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Nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Arkansas generally have a poor track record when it comes to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of residents and temporary patients.  It seems like you hear stories of understaffing, neglect, and outright abuse in Arkansas nursing homes on a weekly basis. But many elderly individuals and family members don’t understand that objective physical abuse isn’t the only qualifier for mistreatment.  Indeed, Arkansas law allows for individuals to file claims, complaints, and even seek criminal prosecution in cases involving:

  • Neglect
  • Carelessness

Nursing home abuse in Arkansas comes in many forms. While physical and emotional violence have the most obvious effects, neglect, carelessness, and distracted employees can wreak havoc on an individual’s health and wellbeing. When you trust your loved one to the care of professionals in a nursing home, you expect they will be treated with dignity, respect, and receive the attention they deserve. But financial pressures, staffing constraints, and high employee turnover can all erode that solid base upon which your loved one’s health, safety, and their very lives rest. In fact, Arkansas nursing homes are, statistically, some of the worst in the nation when it comes to specific safety violations.

1-in-5 Arkansas Nursing Homes Cited for “Significant” Violations

There are a total of 234 licensed nursing homes in Arkansas. 46 of them have been cited for what the U.S. Centers for Medicate and Medicaid Services classify as ‘Significant” medication errors. That’s 1 out of every 5 nursing homes in your area. Is your loved one housed in one of these facilities?

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Nursing homes are designed to be a place where the elderly and chronically ill can be taken care of by compassionate, qualified staff. To ensure that these institutions are following the regulations, The Department of Human Services does unannounced surveys of each location.  According to ProPublica, 73 of the 230 nursing homes in Arkansas have serious deficiencies. One thing that surveyors look for is how many residents at the nursing home have bedsores. Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, can be a form of neglect, and anyone who suffers from them due to neglect deserves to be compensated for the ill treatment they have received from nursing home staff. If your loved one has suffered from pressure ulcers during a nursing home stay, contact the attorneys at Pfeifer Law Firm to talk about your loved one’s rights.

 

What are Pressure Ulcers and How do They Occur

Pressure ulcers are injuries to the skin or the underlying tissue. They are caused by being in one location too long, which puts continuous pressure on specific areas of the body. Nursing home patients who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs will develop bedsores if their position is not changed frequently. Common places for bedsores include heels, ankles, hips, and tailbones because they are all bony protrusions. If a nursing home resident requires any medical devices such as an oxygen mask or an orthopedic brace, the consistent contact with one area of the body can also lead to pressure ulcers. Continue reading ›

In June of last year, the Supreme Court of Arkansas issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the estate of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. In the case, Courtyard Gardens Health and Rehabilitation v. Sheffield, the court was tasked with determining if an arbitration clause contained in a nursing home admission contract was valid when it was signed by an emergency temporary custodian with Adult Protective Services (APS). The court determined that the custodian lacked the authority to consent to arbitration on behalf of the nursing home resident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case, Sheffield, is the administrator of the estate of an elderly woman, Holliman, who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. Prior to her death, Holliman lived by herself. One day, APS received a complaint about the conditions that Holliman was living in, and an APS worker was sent out to Holliman’s home to check on her well-being.

The APS worker noticed several deficiencies in Holliman’s living situation and petitioned the court to take temporary custody of Holliman in order to find her a better living situation. The petition was granted, and the APS worker was named as Holliman’s custodian. He eventually placed Holliman in the defendant nursing home after signing an admission contract containing an arbitration clause.

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Earlier this month, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a written opinion that will be of interest to any putative personal injury plaintiff who signed an arbitration agreement. In the case, Rita v. Gruber, the court held that, although the selected forum mentioned in the arbitration agreement contained in a nursing home admission contract was unavailable, the fact that the parties had agreed to arbitrate means that the plaintiff’s claim must proceed through arbitration.

The Facts of the Case

In 2009, the plaintiff helped her father find housing with the defendant nursing home. The plaintiff had power of attorney for her father, and prior to his admission into the defendant nursing home, the plaintiff signed an admission contract. Contained in the contract was a clause agreeing to submit any future claims to arbitration through the National Arbitration Forum (NAF).

In October 2013, the plaintiff’s father died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. In turn, the plaintiff filed medical malpractice and negligence claims against the nursing home. By this time, the NAF was no longer available to take consumer arbitration cases because the NAF was found to have violated several consumer-protection laws when arbitrating claims and another state had suspended the NAF’s ability to take on new cases.

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The nation’s largest for-profit nursing homes deliver significantly lower quality of care because they typically have fewer staff nurses than non-profit and government-owned nursing homes according to the study by UCSF.

The 10 largest for-profit chains operate about 2,000 nursing homes in the United States. Nursing home chains have expanded recently. The researchers compared staffing levels and facility deficiencies at the for-profit chains to those at homes run by five other ownership groups to measure quality of care. The 10 largest chains were selected because they are influential in the nursing home industry and are the most successful in terms of growth and market share. The study found that for-profit homes keep their costs down by reducing staffing. The 10 largest for-profit chains in 2008 were HCR Manor Care, Golden Living, Life Care Centers of America, Kindred Healthcare, Genesis HealthCare Corporation, Sun Health Care Group, Inc., SavaSeniorCare LLC, Extendicare Health Services, Inc., National Health Care Corporation, and Skilled HealthCare, LLC. According to the report, these chains had fewer nurse “staffing hours” than non-profit and government nursing homes when controlling for other factors. Together, these companies had the sickest residents, but their total nursing hours were 30 percent lower than non-profit and government nursing homes.

The report indicates that the 10 largest for-profit chains were cited for 36 percent more deficiencies and 41 percent more serious deficiencies than the best facilities. Deficiencies include failure to prevent pressure sores, resident weight loss, falls, infections, resident mistreatment, poor sanitary conditions, and other problems that could seriously harm residents. The study also found that the four largest for-profit nursing home chains purchased by private equity companies between 2003 and 2008 had more deficiencies after being acquired. The study is the first to make the connection between worse care following acquisition by private equity companies.

Law enforcement officials shut down a residential care facility in Hot Springs, Arkansas for various fire, building, and safety code violations. Officials from numerous government agencies converged on the home after finding people not getting the care they needed along with open electrical wiring and a lack of smoke detectors.

Data released by the federal government in 2008 found that 95 percent of Arkansas nursing homes were cited for health and safety violations and many of those troubling stats persist. A nursing home patient advocate recently pointed out that there are 234 nursing homes in Arkansas and all the nursing homes except for three percent were cited for violations of the law last year. There were 2,500 reported cases in Arkansas of senior harm, abuse and neglect at nursing homes in 2010 and some of those incidents caused the death of elderly residents.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently announced that his office is increasing both civil investigations and criminal cases to curb nursing home neglect. Currently, there are over 180 state and federal laws that govern nursing homes and their treatment of the elderly. It is important that family members of nursing home residents stay diligent in making sure the Arkansas nursing home is properly taking care of the resident’s needs.

Residents’ Rights Month 2011 reminds us that residents of long-term care facilities (nursing homes) are part of the community. Community is more than just a nursing home. Residents have the right to continue to participate in activities and other groups that meet outside of the nursing home. This year’s Residents’ Rights Month theme Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and the Community challenges us to think of creative ways to involve residents in the community and to invite the community into the facilities in the month of October and throughout the year. It is time to bring our elders back into the community at large. As an Arkansas lawyer who represents nursing home residents and their families, this month is important to remind us all that these residents need our attention and our diligence to make sure their needs are being met. If their needs are not met, it is important to hold the nursing home owners responsible so that other residents will not be ignored.

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